Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fruit: The secret weapon in parents’ nutritional arsenal

(ARA) - Parents, let’s face it -- the average child will never really fall in love with Brussels sprouts, broccoli or cauliflower. But few kids object to fruit, making it easier to help children tap into its wealth of health benefits.

Fruit fights childhood obesity, according to studies by Tufts and Baylor universities that linked high fruit and vegetable consumption by children with a lower body mass index. Fruit is naturally low in calories but high in nutrients like immune system boosting vitamin C, water and fiber, which helps children feel fuller and more energized with fewer calories. Federal dietary guidelines recommend five servings of fruit per day.

Here are some tips to help keep fruit exciting and easy for you and your children:

* Variety really can be the spice of life when it comes to fruit. Supermarkets now regularly offer exotic fruits that were once only found in top restaurants or specialty shops. So on your next supermarket excursion, allow your child to explore the more unusual fruits and choose one or two to try. You may find they adore star fruit and kumquats as much as apples and bananas.

* What child doesn’t like a smoothie, especially in summer? While you’re whipping up a fruit smoothie for your little one, take the opportunity to slip some other nutritious ingredients into the blender, like raw greens (kids think green smoothies are fun), low-fat yogurt for protein and calcium or flaxseed for fiber.

* Keep it simple and easy for both of you. The easier it is for you to present fruit and for your child to eat it, the more likely they are to indulge in it on a regular basis. Look for products and packaging that make fruit snacking easy as pie, like Dole’s All-Natural Jarred Fruit. You can bypass the cutting, slicing and peeling (how many kids have lost interest in their fruit snack by the time Mom finishes preparing it), and instead just open the jar and start enjoying the delicious, wholesome goodness of ready-to-eat fruit.

* Kids seem hard-wired to crave something sweet for breakfast, whether it’s good for them or not. Satisfy your youngster’s sweet tooth and your desire to ensure they have a good start each morning by incorporating fruit into your breakfast routine. Whether you serve up apple slices with peanut butter on the side for dipping, or top a pancake with some jarred fruit, you’ll be serving a breakfast that is fun and tasty as well as nutritious.

* Encourage kids to continue their healthful, fruity mindset throughout their daily lives. Starting Aug. 23, parents can log on to www.DoleMagic.com for a chance to win some fun prizes from top retailers. The site awards 60 daily prizes, eight weekly prizes and one grand prize – a six-night trip for three to Maui, with accommodations in a four-star hotel, rental car and $1,000 spending money.

To make kids feel like winners on a daily basis, try this child-friendly, fruity recipe:

Tropical Parfait

Preparation time: 15 minutes.
Makes two servings.


1 jar (24.5 ounces) Dole Tropical Fruit
3/4 cup granola
1 carton (6 ounces) low-fat vanilla yogurt
Cinnamon sticks (optional)


Drain 1 1/2 cups of the tropical fruit. In a parfait glass, place a layer of granola. Top it with a layer of tropical fruit, then a layer of yogurt. Repeat until glass is full. Garnish with cinnamon sticks, if desired.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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